Tagged: daily blog reposts

[Daily Blog reposts] Binning the MMP review: is it just kneejerk antidemocratism?

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 16 May 2013.

So, the National-led government is basically canning the huge amount of work and Sacred Taxpayer Dollars which went into the review of our electoral system – because, as aptly demonstrated by Holly Walker of the Greens and Lianne Dalziel of Labour, they don’t like it.

What don’t they like?  The common assumption is that it’s about the recommendations to eliminate lifeboating – i.e. Peter Dunne winning Ohariu again and dragging in a bunch of fundies with him – and to balance that out by reducing the party vote threshold to 4%.

What I don’t get is why.

I mean, Walker is going with the (very strong) line that it’s because National are reliant on Banks and Dunne, who both probably have delusions of one day regaining extra seats in the House.

I am no political scientist, nor do I have access to the magical beast which is internal party polling, but this makes little sense to me.  Does anyone see Banksy keeping hold of Epsom? Does anyone see the electorate swinging behind United Future again, after the hilarious debacles which have always ensued – and always get recited whenever Dunne seems to be courting the Reasonable Middle Ground demographic?

On current polling, of the minor parties, only NZ First has a shot of returning to Parliament, and that’s assuming Richard Prosser can keep his mouth shut until the election (I don’t include the Greens as a minor party these days).  The Conservatives are on 1.5%.  Wouldn’t it make much more sense for the Right to just euthanise ACT, drop the threshold, and hope that Colin can pull in enough votes to get over the line?  Who knows how many hard-blue Nat voters would strategically jump ship to ensure their party wasn’t dependent on Winston?  And to those voters, getting from 1.5 to 4 looks a hell of a lot easier that 1.5 to 5.

Are the Nats just that stuck in an antidemocratic, anti-MMP mindset?  Do they still harbour dreams of ruling alone, even though it’s probably impossible in general and much less so when you’re going for a third term and the wheels are starting to come off the wagon?

This post is almost entirely made up of questions to which I have no answers, but I’m genuinely puzzled.  Spin me your theories in the comments.

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[Daily Blog reposts] Family First: let the children go hungry

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 2 May 2013.

Lest you think this is some hilarious send-up, let me stick a link to the original press release right here at the front so all may marvel at it.

Yep, that’s Bob McCoskrie, who cannot jump up quickly enough when parents’ rights to whack children are threatened, actually arguing that we shouldn’t have food-in-schools programmes because … well, I’ll let the man speak for himself:

The danger is that we could be simply rewarding bad parenting.

Yep.  The danger is that, by ensuring children from low-decile neighbourhoods get a piece of fucking toast in the morning, we’re just encouraging their parents to … Bob?

there is a welfare system in New Zealand. Every home has a source of income. The important question is – what is the money being spent on, and is that appropriate?

That’s right, rip off the welfare system.  The generous, generous welfare system.  But hey now, he’s not heartless or anything.

Where there is genuine financial need – and there are sure to be genuine cases out there – WINZ should play a role

You can always spot the people who really understand poverty and need by the way they just have to make it explicit that they are totally sure there are real cases of poverty out there.  I mean, he’s never seen a really poor person, but they, like, must be out there.

This is the man, and his little marching band, who claim ownership of the moral/ethical/social high ground in New Zealand politics.  This is the group which screams bloody murder at letting loving same-sex couples raise children together, which wants to remove any hint of sex education from our schools, which campaigns tirelessly to restrict our already-onerous abortion access.

A group which pays God knows how much money to David Farrar to conduct rigged polls to generate endless Chicken Little the-moral-sky-is-falling headlines.

But when we’re talking about children going hungry, what’s Family First/McCoskrie’s first concern?  That we’re not regulating, monitoring and punishing poor parents harshly enough.

If anyone can actually point me to a single instance where Family First NZ has given the tiniest of fucks about structural causes of poverty, inequal wealth distribution, the failure of social welfare to keep up with inflation and increases in the price of living, do drop a link in the comments.

I’d prefer a unicorn, personally, but one can’t get too fussy when given an opportunity to see an imaginary creature.

[Daily Blog reposts] Stop pretending the All Blacks are just normal, ordinary guys

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 28 April 2013.

So.  Another All Black is accused of assaulting his partner.  And once again, the rugby establishment is pretending there’s no big deal, and the mainstream media are acting like his mother is some kind of objective witness, like someone who wasn’t there and didn’t see it is in some kind of position to judge the seriousness of the issue because, well, he’s her boy.  And an All Black.

The point I want to particularly examine is the idea that it’s OK for Savea to continue playing because, well, his rugby bosses “involved” his partner/victim in the decision.

Like that’s just a casual conversation.

Like there’s no pressure on her to back down, to minimise what happened.

Like there’s no precedents for her to look at and understand that odds are good Savea will walk free even if he’s found to have assaulted her.

Like her mother-in-law hasn’t already undermined her case and set the “she’s just being hysterical he’s a hero” propaganda ball rolling.

Like we haven’t just had a really clear international example of the shit that gets dumped on women assault victims when their attackers are prominent sportspeople with the weight of an entire community’s idolisation on their shoulders.

And like he’s not an All Black, a hero of the nation, whose every sporting achievement has to be shouted from the rooftops.

No no no, this was totally a discussion between equals, with no power dynamics or social pressure on her at all.

It is simply fucking obscene that Steve Tew or whoever else was involved in that decision thought it would be appropriate to (a) put the pressure of that decision on her and (b) exploit her involvement to justify their decision to let him tour.

But then I guess Tew’s words say it all:

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said Ms Rodgers had been involved in the decision to allow him to play.

“After all she was the victim,” he said.

Yeah, after all.

Now, obviously the case is still before the courts and no details have been released, so I’m just going to give this final tip to Julian Savea’s parents:  sit down, shut the fuck up, and do some background fucking reading on the screeds of abusers and criminals whose parents thought they were a lovely lad/girl who’d never do anyone any harm.

[Daily Blog reposts] Marriage equality – and the next steps

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.

I’m typing this post up, just as Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill has been made law by a 77-40-something vote.  (I may also have been drinking a liiiiiiiiiittle bit of cider.)

And I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I have to ask: what’s next?

Jami-Lee Ross made comments about our abortion laws in his speech – which is fantastic, because it says he doesn’t fear the word.  But he talked about it being decriminalized – and it isn’t, really.  Do we dare go there?

And as Steve Grey spelled out in his recent post here, there’s a lot m0re going on for queer/LGBT/QUILTBAG folk in NZ than just the right to marry.

Marriage equality means we’ve finally recognised in law that same-sex two-person relationships are equal to heterosexual two-person relationships.  But what about poly people?  What about genderqueer people who don’t want to be assigned to one of two categories?  And what about the continuing violence and oppression and consequent self-harm of our young queer people?

In Parliament tonight, MPs spoke about takataapui, about transgender people no longer being forced to divorce, about intersex people.  There’s a lot more issues out there, and being able to call yourself a bride (because contrary to popular fundy bigot belief, a lot of queer people do use words like wife and husband and bride and groom) is just one step on the path to really accepting allthe wonderful and diverse loving relationships that New Zealanders are involved in.

Tonight, I’m drinking celebratory cider.  Tomorrow, we need to take the next steps.

~

I highly recommend lprent’s post on the best speeches so far at The Standard, and would add Mojo Mathers’, which seriously made me cry.

[Daily Blog reposts] The new prohibitionists

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 11 April 2013.

Above all else, there’s nothing I hate more than someone who lies about their intention.  It’s the one redeeming thing about, say, rabid antichoicers who accept that people who get abortions should be imprisoned for murder: their beliefs are reprehensible, but at least they’re consistent, and don’t try to pass laws saying, say, “we just want to regulate the evil babykilling industry so it’s safe!”

Which is basically the line Peter Dunne is trying to sell in this media release about “legal highs”:

Today is the beginning of the end of an unregulated legal highs industry, and young New Zealanders will be the safer for it

Because you see, the problem is that a lot of whacked-out shit is getting sold in party pill format, and it’s untested, and this can end badly, and as someone just catching up with season 1 of Banshee I have no real disagreement with that premise.

But dig just the teensiest bit deeper?

The Bill will replace the temporary class drug notice regime that has been in place since August 2011.

It has done its job very well, taking 33 substances and as a result, more than 50 products off the market, but it was only ever a holding regime until we could get this law in place.”

Now, I may be completely missing the point here, but I was personally under the impression that you regulate things so that the unsafe things are taken away and the proven-safe things are permitted to be sold, albeit perhaps limited to grown-ups.  But for some reason, Peter Dunne’s press release doesn’t talk about how many substances have been tested or evaluated, just how many have been taken off the market, as though that’s the real measure of success.

And that is, in fact, a pretty different kettle of fish.

I mean, I’m not at all surprised that Dunne’s real focus is the killing off of all fun, I just wish he wasn’t co-opting ideas about sensible regulation and liberality in allowing adults to make informed choices to sell it.

[Daily Blog reposts] New agency to crack down on cyber-bullying is a lie / is the scariest thing you’ll see today

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 4 April 2013.

So, Judith Collins is going to crack down on cyber-bullying.

Bunji at The Standard identifies this – I think super-correctly – as another distraction tactic, from the Minister who continues to have a reputation as a hardline smacker-down of social naughtiness, despite never actually crushing a single car.  Idiot/Savant notes the unequal treatment cyber-bullying will be getting under law.

And hell, even the Sensible Sentencing Trust thinks it’s a waste of money.

Personally?  I’ve always had issues about the way bullying carried out over scary new technological platforms gets massively over-hyped as though it’s a completely different beast from vile rumours going around the schoolyard, getting smacked around in a locker room, crank-calls or being worked to breaking point by a sociopathic manager.

I get that Cyber-Bullying (TM) has the added impact of lasting on the internet forever and being accessible by literally anyone, but honestly?  I’ve always thought that was just an embarrassment cherry on top of a huge shame-and-ostracisation pie.

What seriously annoys me though is when sentences like this don’t get someone laughed out of Cabinet:

Ms Collins says the proposed new approved agency will help people get the support they need to stop cyber bullying quickly.

It’s like all those Stuff commenters who think we need to issue all beneficiaries with personally-identifiable credit cards which can only be redeemed for state-determined food and services, because they’ve been raised in hermetically-sealed bubbles and don’t understand how administration works, i.e. involves money and people and functioning IT systems (let’s not even go there).

For an agency to be “quick” to respond to cyber-bullying, it has to be staffed to the gills and overpowered to a despotic extent.  Otherwise?

  • Fill in the form.
  • Wait for it to be assessed.
  • Be asked to provide more information.
  • Hope no one emails it to another client.
  • If bullying is found to be occurring, file papers with the hosting agency or ISP.
  • If the bullying’s happening on Facebook and doesn’t involve naked breasts, don’t hold your breath.
  • Eventually, the first post might get taken down, after being seen by all the people you care about – i.e. your schoolmates – and probably retweeted and shared and mirrored Gods know where else.

It’s either completely unrealistic or completely terrifying to talk about a government agency which can “quickly” combat anything happening online, where the situation changes by the minute.  Where most of the damage – like with most bullying – is done with the first blow, the first post, the first time you realise anyone could have seen it.

For it to work, you’d have to build a secure bunker of nerds empowered to hack into literally every site and domain on the internet and delete stuff at the merest hint of complaint in an email.  Which is seriously scary, and also totally unworkable, because who heard about this and didn’t immediately assume there’d be a tsunami of vexatious complaints?

But it fits a really comfy narrative for a media who still buy into the idea that Judith Collins is a powerful decisive getting-things-done politician and who also don’t really understand social media, or – given how many I saw today annoyed bemused bolshy snarky that the State Services Commission dared to declare a press conference Twitter-free – assume that their audience don’t.

~

And a tiny note to the Labour Party:  just let Andrew Little front this issue, okay?  I don’t think we really want the risk involved in having Clare Curran talking about cyber-bullying.  Clare Curran who allegedly (wouldn’t want to post anything knowingly false, now) petitioned the Labour Party Council to demand the outing and censure of Labour Party members who criticise her The Party on blogs.

[Daily Blog reposts] The myths – and lies – about the Domestic Purposes Benefit

This post was originally posted at The Daily Blog on 30 March 2013.

The Child Poverty Action Group has released a new background paper outlining the myths and the facts around solo parents and the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

You may recall Gordon Campbell on much the same topic back in February 2011.

Both pieces of work should be considered required reading among people interested in social justice, and/because they send a good, clear message:  beneficiaries aren’t inherently bludging scum stealing your taxpayer dollars; and the welfare system is doing God’s work.

But there’s another message I think needs to be said loud and clear – and it can’t be said by groups like CPAG, who fairly enough want to build relationships with senior politicians and influence policy

The message is this:  these aren’t myths.  They’re lies.

Paula Bennett has an entire Ministry full of policy analysts who could tell her that no one’s “dream” is to live on the DPB forever.  The Prime Minister, as Leader of the Opposition, had every option to OIA the Ministry now headed by Bennett to establish if teenagers are “breeding for a business”.  And Lindsay Mitchell is paid to write columns on the welfare system despite plenty of evidence which refutes every hateful, judgey thing she says.

These people are not stupid, and they are not ignorant.  They are wilfully spinning a narrative about DPB recipients which suits their purposes.  They want to force people into such dire circumstances that they’ll take any job going, even if it means leaving their children alone or with strangers.

That means employers can pay less, demand more, get away with shirking their ethical and legal duties.  It doesn’t really do anything to help the wider economy – most National Party policy doesn’t – but it does mean business owners making a buck.

Bennett and Key and Mitchell also want you to hate people who get the DPB.  They don’t want the voters to think “wow, you must have fallen on hard times” because then they’d start thinking about all the other ways a society should support people, through accessible healthcare and education and childcare.  And then they’d stop voting for a party like National which exists to cut everything down to the bone so their mates can make a buck.

Your only alternative is that we have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Social Development and any number of “experts” like Lindsay Mitchell who are literally incapable of seeing the facts before them.

I’m not saying it’s completely implausible, but …

[Daily Blog reposts] Reform NZ abortion law now

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 21 March 2013.

I’m returning to an old theme of mine, on this shiny new platform, not only because it’s an issue which I think is important, but one which needs to be discussed.

It needs to be discussed because it’s a matter of basic human rights.

It needs to be discussed because a lot of people – politically-savvy people who are interested in law and rights and progressiveness – really don’t have a good basic knowledge of it.

It needs to be discussed because treating it like an icky scary gross vagina-related issue is one of the reasons New Zealand, a country so bloody smug about its achievements in other areas (*cough*givingwomenthevote*cough*), continues to have condescending, paternalistic, backwards, health-endangering laws around abortion.

Abortion, as part of a whole big wibbly-wobbly thing called “reproductive rights”, is a human right because no one else has the power to commandeer your internal organs for their own purposes.  It’s a health issue because, no matter what restrictions have been placed on it historically, pregnant people have always found ways to end pregnancies they do not want.  Some of these ways are a lot safer than others.

It’s a public health/social welfare issue because forcing people in difficult circumstances to go through pregnancy – not, in fact, a picnic – and then raise a child they do not want, on the generous support of a Paula Bennett-run social welfare system, may just lead to bad outcomes:  hungry kids.  Abused kids.  Unemployed parents.

And abortion in New Zealand is not on demand, no matter how often people who pretend to “love life” insist that we “practically” have abortion on demand.  The hoops pregnant people have to jump through are ridiculous, even when they’re accessible (note: Southland DHB has now begun offering abortion services in Invercargill, despite the best intimidation efforts of “pro-lifers”).  It’s patronising.   It only delays the inevitable – because pregnant people who don’t want to be pregnant will find a way to end that pregnancy, and the longer they are forced to wait, the more dangerous it becomes for them.

Abortion is still a crime under the Crimes Act in New Zealand – with a big messed-up process to get around it, like a labyrinthine self-defence defence.  New Zealanders deserve better.  They deserve the right to control their own bodies and fertility, without petty obstacles.  They deserve the right to make their own medical decisions in private (and yep, that also includes pregnant people who want to remain pregnant).

Now do go on and tell me I’m a soulless baby-killer while I get a cuppa.  If the leftwing men would form a backup chorus for the “why aren’t you focusing on issues that matter” number later this evening that’d be great too.

[Daily Blog reposts] The future of politics – when you’re living in the future

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 14 March 2013.

I’m writing this post as I groove along to the dulcet tones of Parliament TV streaming live (yay for living in the future), awaiting the second reading of the Marriage Equality Bill.

The Twitter feed is buzzing (except for those poor souls who had to trade their smartphones for the sheer awesomeness of being there in person).  Facebook has been positively spammy with the weight of updates from people urging their online friends to email their MPs and like this page and watch this video (and defriend the bigots who you only friended because you were at school together.)

This is the future of political conversation.  And as Bomber’s post on Facebook proportionality shows, some parties are a lot more prepared for it than others.

Labour tries – bless them – but their website design is horrible, their blog is dire, and their Twitter engagement runs the full spectrum from robotic to trolly.

The Greens obviously do a lot better.  They just seem to get it, and I’m desperately trying not to draw any conclusions about the demographics involved because then I get accused of hating old white men again.

National?  A few shining examples, at least of MPs (e.g. Tau Henare) who are completely willing to embrace new media and run with it, but otherwise still paddling around watching the social media wave go past them, happy to catch it the next time around.

But what does it mean?  When people aren’t buying newspapers, aren’t watching the ads on the telly (if they’re watching the telly at all), when a lot of people prefer to let their friends and favourite celebrities filter the news of the day for them?  The parties who are there already, and who get it, and who know how to get their messages across and be part of a real conversation without sounding fake are going to get the job done.

Since you’re reading a blog right now, I’m going to assume you’re part of the internet-savvy population.  So compare how you feel knowing Katrina Shanks declared that “filesharing is actually an illegal activity” (yes, ALL filesharing) in the House, with the Green Party kicking off a campaign to protect our beaches by inciting a little online rivalry.  Or, notwithstanding the fact you may feel the same way about Reddit that I do, Gareth Hughes running an Ask Me Anything thread.

Two of those things are examples of finding ways to use online communication to interest people, especially young people,  and make them feel that they’re playing a part (even if it’s just a cute little gesture of parochialism.)

One of those things is a guaranteed way to make most people who understand Teh Interwebz think twice about voting for a party which would let you be in charge of anything technical (see also: Clare Curran.)

Social media almost certainly won’t be the one big decisive factor of Election 2014, or even 2017.  But it’s also not a passing fad which parties can get away with ignoring.

Might I cheekily suggest they start by realising that we bloggers aren’t all a bunch of “anonymous” people “behind darkened curtains”?

[Daily Blog reposts] Rape culture: we’re living in it

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 7 March 2013.

What is rape culture?

If you ask people who are scared of feminism and radical concepts like “equality”, it’s all a big lie, it’s a conspiracy theory, it’s a meaningless jargon term which we women throw around to justify our seething hatred of all men.

If you ask me, I’ll steal a handy definition from Tumblr and say it’s

a term that describes a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.

But what does that mean in real life?

It’s Seth MacFarlane making jokes about seeing famous actress’ breasts on screen – while referencing tragic, violent movies featuring brutal rape scenes.

It’s the constant use of passive language when the media reports rapes, or downright describing rape as “sex”, even “consensual sex” – often disclaiming, “oh, but legally, the suspect hasn’t been convicted of rape” – when no one has a problem reporting that a murder victim has been murdered.

It’s women living lives, if not of fear, then of wariness, because it could happen to you – and it’s almost certainly happened to your friends and loved ones – and even when it hasn’t happened, you know you’ve been close.

It’s not being able to assume that any man you meet or talk to or invite into your home isn’t Schrodinger’s Rapist.

It’s talking about our lived experiences and being told we’re being silly, or self-centred (because sexual harassment and sexual assault are compliments) or lying.

You want cold hard facts?  Like Coley said,

1 in 4 women in New Zealand will experience unwanted and distressing sexual contact in her lifetime. Yet our Government has consistently failed to fund services which help survivors and their communities. Last year, this went so far as Wellington Rape Crisis needing to accept funding from famously feminist Hell’s Pizza to stay afloat.

That’s what rape culture is.  And once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.

The first step in fighting rape culture is acknowledging it exists.  The second is pointing it out so others are forced to see it.  The third … I’ll figure out once we get people even to step one.

I know this post won’t end rape.  But maybe it’ll pull another thread out of the rape culture tapestry.  Maybe it’ll mean one rape joke at the water cooler gets called out.   Maybe it’ll stop one “friend” making light of an assault.  Maybe it’ll make one guy think twice about how hilarious it is the way his buddy always hits on the really drunk girls.

If I didn’t believe that, I’d have to lock myself in a small room for the rest of my life.